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William Dean Howells (1837 - 1920)

William Dean Howells was born on March 1st, 1837 in Martinsville, Ohio, the son of Mary Dean Howells and William Cooper Howells. His father was both a printer and a publisher, and Howells himself worked as a typesetter and a printer’s apprentice. A self-educated man, Howells studied and read Spanish, French, Latin, and German. He became a reporter for the Ohio State Journal (1856-1861), The Cincinnati Gazette, and The Sentinel, contributing poems and reviews to The Atlantic Monthly (1886-1891).

Venetian Life (1866) and Italian Journey (1867), when published, brought Howells recognition, but his novels, Their Wedding Journey (1872) and The Lady of the Aroostook (1879), were published with little notice. It was A Modern Instance (1882) that turned Howell into a well-respected novelist. The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885) cemented that reputation.

Howells wrote over fifty novels, including: The Undiscovered Country (1880), A Traveler from Altruria (1889), The Day of Their Wedding (1896), The Story of a Play (1898), Letters Home (1903), Editha (1905), and The Vacation of the Kelwyns (1920).

In 1904 Howells was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, serving as its first president. Howells died in New York City on May 11th, 1920.

Suggested sites for William Dean Howells:

Encyclopedia article about William Dean Howells
Texts by Howells
My Literary Passions
Literally the tale of Howells' passion for literature.

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